Deputy Pete Thompson with the United States Marshals Service (USMS) recently recognized BLM Arizona Strip Field Office Law Enforcement Ranger Curtis Racker and Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument Ranger Brice Provost for the crucial role they played in apprehending a fugitive kidnapping suspect and reuniting the four-year-old victim with his mother.
On April 16, 2021, the USMS notified BLM Arizona Strip Field Office Law Enforcement Ranger Curtis Racker of information pertaining to a kidnapping suspect who might be camped near the town of Apple Valley and on public lands near Gooseberry Mesa in southern Utah.
Ranger Racker and BLM Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument Ranger Brice Provost patrolled the area to identify the suspect’s camp. When the Rangers located a camp with a vehicle matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle, they left the area and notified the USMS. Using the information the BLM Rangers obtained, the USMS, Washington County Utah Fugitive Taskforce, and Utah Highway Patrol (UHP); along with BLM Utah Supervisory Ranger David Russel and St. George Field Office Ranger Richard “Deak” Dollard, organized a plan to enter the camp.
That afternoon, a UHP helicopter arrived in the area and ground units, consisting of two UTVs and two Bureau patrol trucks, arrived at the suspect’s camp. The USMS, members of the Washington County Fugitive Taskforce, and Bureau Rangers quickly secured the camp which encompassed a large area with multiple tents. USMS took the kidnapping suspect into custody without incident. The victim, a four-year-old-child, was located, safely removed, and reunited with his mother due to this interagency effort.
“The work our BLM law enforcement rangers do to engage and partner with our State and local law enforcement counterparts supports the Department-wide approach developed by Secretary Haaland’s Task Force in strengthening trust and collaboration with our local communities,” said Arizona Strip District Manager Michael Herder. (Learn more about Secretary Haaland’s Department Law Enforcement Task Force.) “We are so proud of our BLM Rangers. Their knowledge and familiarity with navigating the public lands in this area was critical in locating the suspect’s camp and providing for a successful outcome.”
BLM law enforcement rangers and agents also regularly work in cooperation with local sheriff’s offices, State agencies, and other Federal law enforcement agencies to investigate wildland arson, mineral resource theft, hazardous materials dumping, archaeological and historical artifact and paleontological theft, and illegal marijuana cultivation. Good working relationships with local law enforcement and other stakeholders are essential for the BLM to successfully resolve these crimes.
“This is an example of the benefit of the collaborative law enforcement partnerships we have,” said Matthew D Harris, U.S. Marshal for the District of Utah. “Because of this partnership, the USMS safely returned a child to his family, and a perpetrator was arrested without incident.” While law enforcement officers have many responsibilities “no mission is more important or more rewarding than helping a family reunite with a missing child,” he added.